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The Story Of The Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913 - 1918
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Southern Party

R. M. Anderson (the "Dr.")

As a mammalogist and zoologist first with the American Museum of Natural History, and later with the National Museum of Canada, Dr. Rudolph Martin Anderson spent seven winters and ten summers north of the Arctic Circle.

During his first northern expedition, the Stefansson-Anderson Arctic Expedition of 1908-12, Anderson travelled through Arctic Alaska and the northern Yukon and explored the area around Amundsen Gulf, the Coppermine River, and Coronation Gulf. Throughout his first four years in the north he collected bird and mammal specimens, made an extensive series of photographs, and collected information on an incredible variety of topics: from native customs to wildlife population trends. During the expedition Anderson spent three months on the steam-whaler Belvedere and shorter periods on the Herman and the smaller whaling schooner Rosie H.

At the start of the CAE, Anderson was appointed Leader of the Southern Party. In the absence of Stefansson, it was upon his shoulders that fell much of the work of organizing supplies and equipment for the Expedition. He was involved in all aspects of the Expedition, from ordering food, to packing the ships, navigating and even acting as captain. He was also an accomplished photographer, adding some 800 photographs to the Expedition's records.

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Dr. R.M. Anderson seated talking and trading with several Copper Inuit, Bernard Harbour, Nunavut. September 2, 1914. FJ 42229. Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization

In their journals, the other scientists and men of the Southern Party routinely refer to Anderson as "the Dr." or "Dr. Anderson." Stuart Jenness, who compiled his father's dairies for publication, comments that this usage "reflects the respect my father and his colleagues held for the knowledge, experience, and authority of their leader. It may also have been unconsciously encouraged by the latter, a quiet, soft-spoken, serious man, a former army officer, older by almost a decade than most of the others, and devoutly dedicated to achieving the successful completion of the work they had all been assigned" (Stuart Jenness, Arctic Odyssey, 1991).

At the end of the fieldwork, Anderson was appointed as editor of the scientific volumes. This occupied much of his career and delayed the publication of his own work. This arduous task and the ongoing stand-off between Anderson and Stefansson, over the writing and publishing of the first two volumes of the CAE Reports, combined to result in those volumes never being published. It is clear from Anderson's voluminous correspondence files that the controversy with Stefansson remained an issue for the rest of his life.

As Chief of the Biology Division of the National Museum of Canada, Anderson travelled to many parts of Canada, collecting mammal specimens and information that formed a valuable foundation for the eventual writing and publication of the book, Mammals of Canada. He returned to the Arctic in 1927 as naturalist on the federal government's annual Eastern Arctic Patrol.

Anderson's knowledge of Arctic animals played an important role in the early action by the Canadian government in drafting the Northwest Game Act to help in the conservation of northern wildlife. Anderson's book Methods of Collecting and Preserving of Vertebrate Animals, first published in 1932, has been reprinted many times and is still in print.

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Dr. R. M. Anderson, smiling, Bernard Harbour, Nunavut, July 6, 1916. JRC 39577. Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization